NH1 News Debates


Jan 7, 2015 10:54 AM

French weekly has history of angering Muslims with cartoons

The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) The French newspaper Charlie Hebdo's staple is to be provocative poking fun at popes, presidents as well as the Prophet Muhammad.

The satirical weekly has a history of drawing outrage across the Muslim world with crude cartoons of Islam's holiest figure. The magazine's offices, where 12 people were killed by gunmen Wednesday, were firebombed in November 2011 after it published a spoof issue that "invited" Muhammad to be its guest editor and put his caricature on the cover.

A year later, the magazine published more Muhammad drawings amid an uproar over an anti-Muslim film. The cartoons depicted Muhammad naked and in demeaning or pornographic poses. As passions raged, the French government defended free speech even as it rebuked Charlie Hebdo for fanning tensions.

The small-circulation weekly leans toward the left and takes pride in making acerbic commentary on world affairs through cartoons and spoof reports.

"We treat the news like journalists. Some use cameras, some use computers. For us, it's a paper and pencil," the Muhammad cartoonist, who goes by the name Luz, told The Associated Press in 2012. "A pencil is not a weapon. It's just a means of expression."

Editor Stephane Charbonnier, among the 10 journalists killed Wednesday, also defended the Muhammad cartoons speaking to The AP in 2012.

"Muhammad isn't sacred to me," said Charbonnier, who used the pen name Charb. "I don't blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don't live under Quranic law."

Islam is not alone in being singled out by Charlie Hebdo's satire. Past covers include retired Pope Benedict XVI in amorous embrace with a Vatican guard; former French President Nicolas Sarkozy looking like a sick vampire; and an Orthodox Jew kissing a Nazi soldier.

The magazine occasionally publishes investigative journalism, taking aim at France's high and mighty.

Charlie Hebdo has come under pressure ever since its 2011 Muhammad issue. Its website has been hacked. It faced a lawsuit over the prophet cartoons. Riot police once guarded its offices. Charb lived under police protection and his body guard was killed Wednesday along with another officer.

Charb told Le Monde newspaper two years ago: "I'd rather die standing than live on my knees."

One of his last cartoons, published in this week's issue, seemed an eerie premonition.

"Still no attacks in France," an extremist fighter says. "Wait we have until the end of January to present our New Year's wishes."


--  Dealing with the Disease of Addiction? Click here for help --

More from NH1.com

NH1 News Debates
NH1 News Replay

NH1 on Twitter

NH1 SkyView Cameras

NH1 on Facebook

Check out NH1 News Rail Polls on LockerDome on LockerDome